The Big Bend National Park has a huge fan base across the world. With several sites to visit along coupled with a wide variety of activities, there is no surprise that this location has amassed thousands of positive reviews over the years. Located on the border of Mexico and Texas with a ghost town surrounding it, this place is literally in the middle of nowhere. However, if you have set your sights on this place for a visit, give this guide a read.
Top Big Bend National Park Sites
There are some sites in Big Bend National Park that you just cannot ignore. While you are there, you need to give the following sites a visit.
Santa Elena Canyon
The Santa Elena Canyon can be best seen from either a raft or a kayak. You will witness vertical cliffs of 1,500 feet rising from this Canyon. Furthermore, the riparian and the desert areas could be seen from the Lajitas, which happens to be a village located just as you exit the park or enter it. If you want to take a trip of the Canyon, you can start from the trailhead of the Satna Elena Canyon and continue paddling upstream until you float downwards, back from where you started. The trailhead offers you to hike the Canyon’s mouth or take a breather by laying down around the beach after the water level has gone down.
Bosquillas, Mexico is a town of 300 people, located just across Mexico’s border. You will need your U.S passport to pass the National Park’s Bosquillas Port of Entry. Then, you will be driven in a boat by the locals for around $5, or if you are up for it, you can choose to walk and after the water level has reduced. Now, you will need to hire a burro or walk on your own for half a mile to reach the town. Once you have reached the town, inform the Mexican authorities and visit the restaurants, two in total, to munch on fresh tacos and enjoy cervezas.
Langford Hot Springs
The Hot Springs Historic District has a soothing bath for you are known as the Langford Hot Springs, which could be reached by driving on a gravel road for two miles. Back in the 1990s, it was said that the water here could reach a temperature of 105-degrees, which provoked J.O. Langford to settle an area here. Furthermore, it was also said that the water could cure problems related to stomach, skin, and rheumatism as well. Langford had opened a post office and a resort, the remains of which only stand today, reminding that it was a place where human traffic did exist in the early days.
As interesting as it sounds, this chain of mountains could be seen from several points within the park, spread over an area of about 40 square miles. The Emory Peak, which is the highest point of this mountain system, is accessed via the Emory Peak Trail. It needs to be mentioned that the Chisos Mountains are best explored on foot. Therefore, if you are up for a lifetime experience, you need to pack up on some strength and stamina.
The Big Bend National Park is not only a place for sites but offers campsites as well. These sites will guarantee solitude like nowhere else. However, you will be accompanied by critters and javelinas as well. Furthermore, you will have no amenities such as running water and shade, etc. so you will need to pack on almost every necessity if you intend to camp. Lastly, some areas require four-wheel-drive vehicles for accessibility since the path is such, which otherwise may not be possible with regular vehicles.
Big Bend National Park Activities
Now comes the fun part, the Big Bend National Park is home to a variety of outdoor activities that surely need to be tried out.
Start from the elevations that are the lowest. Make your way along the Canyon Trail of Boquillas, which is a 1.6-mile round-trip. Not only is this path easy, but it offers river views that are nothing but amazing before it joins the edge of the water close to the steep-slope Canyon’s opening. Be sure to check out the Sam Nail Ranch, which is a round-trip of 0.3 miles. The Chimneys Trail at 4.8 miles offers Native American Art for the art lovers. Now, move towards the Emory Peak that is situated at the height of 7,000 feet in addition to a 5.23-mile hike.
Rafting or Kayaking at the Rio Grande is probably the best the park could offer. You could hire half a day adventures or multi-day adventures as well. Floating through the Mariscal, Santa Elena and Boquillas provides splendid views of the canyons. Not only that, but you will also come across wildlife as well, such as beavers and great blue herons that are resting along the banks. If you thought that was enough, wait till you find yourself navigating through whitewater that is a sight to sore eyes.
As beautiful and splendid the park is during the daytime, it is even more stunning at night. Once the sun gradually sets and the sky is overtaken by moon and stars, you will not be able to contain the photographer inside you. If you are lucky, you might have a nice warm breeze slowly hitting you from every angle while you gaze at the stars and try to snap a perfect photo. As already mentioned, you can find sufficient solitude in certain areas at Big Bend National Park, but this is going to be something even more peaceful and relaxing.
Another great way to enjoy the fantastic views and explore the park. Hop on a bike and paddle across a total of 260 miles of both paved and unpaved roads to experience some of the most scenic views. However, things will become a bit complicated as you reach the steep hills. Get yourself a mountain bike and trail as much as you can to make the most out of the adventure.
Get Yourself a Jr. Ranger Badge
Things become even more exciting as you work your way towards earning a Jr. Ranger Badge. Earning a badge unlocks some park features that are not accessible otherwise, such as the centennial hiking patches. And since you will not be visiting this place each year, it would be best to try and visit everything.
Since you are on at least a week’s trip, you will need a place to stay, and the Big Bend National Park offers two options for staying.
When it comes to Campgrounds, the Big Bend National Park offers three sites. The first one being, the Chisos Basin Campground accommodates around 60 campers and tents. However, RVs within the 24 feet limit and trailers within 20 feet limit are only allowed. Furthermore, the Cottonwood Campground is another campsite which, as compared to the Chisos Basim Campground, is smaller, featuring 24 sites with picnic tables. This campsite includes places where you could refill water as well. Lastly, the Campground of Rio Grande Village is the biggest that offers 100 sites along with a store and showers at a walking distance. It needs to be mentioned that none of these sites offer camping services, but a 25-site RV operated concession park does.
Chisos Mountain Lounge
Situated at the height of around 5,400 feet at the Chisos Mountain’s base is the Chisos Mountains Lounge. During the summer, you will get to enjoy cooler temperatures along with 72 rooms for different housing needs. Rooms of The Rio Grande Motel and The Casa Grande have basic amenities to offer while the Emory Peak Lodge consists of eight rooms, and the Roosevelt Stone Cottages offers five cottages that are similar to the comfort found in your home. Moreover, there is a general store as well, which opens early in the morning to restock on your snacks and other essential items before you begin with another day of an exciting adventure.
Food and Dining
The Big Bend National Park doesn’t offers much in terms of food and dining. The Chasis Mountain Lounge has a dining place, but the menu is limited. You can visit Emery Peak’s lounge, which offers some variety in food. However, then again, if you want to get your hands-on grocery, you can give the Study Butte grocery store a visit to pick the best food variety and quality.
Even after you have visited and experienced pretty much everything the park has to offer, it will still feel like you have just grazed the surface. The Big Bend National Park is a perfect place for hiking and camping. Lastly, the canyons and the amazing views of the river makes this place perfect for adventure buffs.